Government announces approval of new gambling compacts between the state and two tribal casinos.
US.- The federal government has announced its approval of new gambling compacts between Oklahoma and two tribal nations.
The compacts between Oklahoma and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation were both deemed approved by the US Department of the Interior following the expiration of a 45-day review period.
But according to the governor Kevin Stitt, the state still remains wrapped in a legal dispute over tribal gambling with other tribes and legislative leaders from the governor’s own party.
In a statement, Stitt said the leaders of the two tribes had “worked hard to secure fair terms for their citizens, and whose contributions throughout the negotiations ensured a more level playing field and modernised gaming market in Oklahoma.”
Fellow Republican, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter had called on the Department of the Interior to reject the compacts, claiming that Stitt had overstepped his authority.
He said: “The tribes cannot begin operating under the terms of these compacts until the many questions that remain pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court are resolved. I am deeply disappointed in Interior Secretary (David) Bernhardt’s abdication of his responsibility to all of Oklahoma’s Native American sovereigns, not just two.”
The new compacts permit the two tribes in question to offer new forms of gambling, including sports betting, and to build new casinos nearer to metropolitan areas, from which the state would take a larger cut of revenue. It is not known when the tribes might beging such a project.
Attorney General Mike Hunter has declared that sports gambling remains illegal under state law, and has said that any attempt by the two tribes to build new casinos would probably face opposition from other tribes who already operatw casinos in the areas.
Casino gambling is booming in Oklahoma. Following voters’ approval of gambling expansion in 2004, the state now has 130 casinos ranging from gas station annexes to resort-style hotel casinos, often in border communities.
The tribes paid nearly US$150 million in fees to the state last year, much of which was assigned to public schools.